Quick Tips: Ethereal Imagery


Take a break from picture-perfect razor sharpness and embrace a more delicate perspective when taking photographs. Here, we share some basic tips on how to take photos that look like snippets from a dream: glowing, grainy, and with a dreamy feel.

Credits: skaman306, anumino & lashchykova

Shoot in Overcast Conditions

We tend to shy away from overcast days, thinking that the colors won't be as vibrant as they are on a sunny day. Take advantage of the hazy days if you're aiming for softer, dream-like images. The low contrast will highlight skin tones and the diffused light makes for an ethereal look. If you need a little pop of light, have a reflector ready and aim it at your subject to bounce some light.

Credits: almostbrightlights, minililimi & chulipaquin

Take the Lens Off

A pinhole camera is a lens-less, light-proof box with a tiny hole on one side. When light passes through this pinhole, it then projects an inverted image on the opposite side. Using a pinhole camera is a surefire way to achieve glowy, dreamy photographs. While it's fun and easy (you can make your own pinhole camera, it takes a little time, trial and error ... but then again, that's what makes analogue photography exciting, right?

Credits: dakadev_pui, kylewis, togotogo, samokhvalov & schwarzesauge

Be Shallow (With Your Depth-of-Field)

Shooting in shallow depth-of-field isolates the details in the background, and this draws the viewer's focus to your subject. To do this, set your SLR camera to a low f/stop (for example f/1.4 to f/2.8); this widens the aperture, which enhances the blur. Remember though that this allows more light to come in, so be mindful of your shutter speed and ISO setting!

Credits: nath_mart, lereile, laylara & hobbylinse

Beautify Your Bokeh

Lastly, if you're experimenting with your digital and analogue SLR cameras, a Lomography Art Lens can do wonders for your portraits. Our top picks for dream-like effects? The Daguerreotype Achromat 2.9/64 that delivers silky-soft, artful look (most especially when used with Lumière and Aquarelle aperture plates), and the New Petzval art lens family, particularly our latest offering, the Petzval 80.5 MKII. These premium lenses will perfectly frame your subject with beautiful bokeh swirls and shapes.

Credits: karrrrrrrrson, tomczykd, nigalraymond & cepelingraphy

Do you have any tips for magical, dream-like photographs? Sound off in the comments!


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  1. ilcimento_com
    ilcimento_com ·

    The simple use of plastic lensed cameras like Diana, Holga, etc. often gives beautiful softness to the images, particularly when shooting back lit subjects or with sun light hitting the lens at an angle. Worth trying. An old trick to get a similar effect from otherwise "good" optics, was to use any UV- / Skylight- or any other filter on which hair gel or similar was applied. Never tried this myself though.

  2. jolom
    jolom ·

    @ilcimento_com Ooh, I am curious to try the hair gel trick! Thanks for the tip.

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